Oltmans wants to raise the bar

Asia Cup title is the first goal for senior team, says head coach

Oltmans wants to raise the bar

Into a new Olympic cycle, the Indian hockey coach Roelant Oltmans has assured that his side would leave no stone unturned to achieve their targets and push to take their level a notch higher this season.

India are scheduled to participate in four big-ticket tournaments this year — the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in April, the Hockey World League semifinal in June, the Asia Cup in September and the Hockey World League Final in December. Oltmans was quick to state the team’s target at every event.

“First up, we want to win the Asia Cup and establish ourselves as the best in Asia. We lost out in 2013 and we don’t want that to repeat this year,” he said. India had lost to Korea in the final of the 2013 edition.

“Secondly, we want to be a medal contender at the Hockey World League Finals. But, before that we have the Azlan Shah, and then the Hockey World League Semifinals in London. Yes, we’ve already qualified for the finals (by virtue of being the host), but still it’s, for us, a good opportunity to face top teams and see where we stand.”

There are 11 players from the title winning side at the Junior Hockey World Cup last year in the 33-member core probables here. And Oltmans expects the youngsters to push the established names for a place in the side. “I expect them to push the guys who’ve already been part of the national setup. Secondly, I expect them to develop.

I don’t expect them to be the best right away and play tournaments. That will take time,” the Dutchman stated.

The new season has also seen Oltmans make changes to his backroom staff. While Australia’s Scott Conway has come in as a scientific advisor, Hans Streeder has replaced Roger van Gent as the analytical coach. Former India stars Arjun Halappa has been brought in the assistant coach and Jugraj Singh will be the dragflick expert.

“I am really happy with the guys who have come in,” Oltmans said of the new support staff. “Scott was in Malaysia for two years so he knows about the Asian culture, the demands of the sport. Haans was my assistant with Holland and he worked with me at UP Wizards (the HIL team) too. So, we have that camaraderie that’s required for this job.

“About the Indians, I believe Arjun has the know-how and the personality to become a good coach and his experience as a player will be very vital. He is more attacking guy, so we needed someone who has been good defensively. And who better than Jugraj,” Oltmans explained.
DH News Service

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